St. Petersburg business owner plans to fight mask violation

Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – When Jason Stross received the mask violation ticket in the mail, he knew it had to be a mistake. Stross owns West Central Design and Build on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

On June 23, a city code inspector visited his business to let him know that day at 5 p.m. the citywide mask ordinance was going into effect. It wasn’t a pleasant meeting.

“I told her, you have a tough job. I feel sorry that you have to go door to door and tell businesses that they have to wear these masks which is crazy to begin with. I’m not in agreement with it and that’s all there is to it,” said Stross. “And I pushed her papers aside and walked away.”

Just after 1 p.m. that day the inspector went back to her car and wrote Stross a ticket because he and his employees weren’t wearing masks.

That’s because the ordinance requiring owners and employees to wear masks went into effect on June 19. The ordinance she was informing Stross about was the ordinance that included customers.

The city declined an on-camera interview, but a spokesman said because Stross was in violation of the June 19 order, the ticket is valid.

Stross says his business is in an office complex and there are no traditional walk-in customers. Therefore, he doesn’t believe either mask ordinance applies to him.

“We’re a general contracting firm. We have five individual offices for each employee with doors on them,” said Stross. “We don’t have a walk-in business whatsoever. “

The same inspector visited Bill Williams accounting firm that same day.

“She said she’d be back in a few days to check,” said Williams, referring to a compliance check. “She had a whole list of addresses to check before five o’clock and it was close to five o’clock. “

Williams says that’s the last he’s heard from the city, but according to a document obtained by 8 On Your Side, Williams is in violation and should be receiving an ordinance violation ticket in the mail. Williams doesn’t understand why.

“We keep the door locked, There are three people that work here. We each have our own office so we are socially distanced. We have a mask,” said Williams. “So if we let someone in we all put our mask on.”

The ticket Stross received was for $118. He says it would be easy for him to just pay it and move on, but he plans to fight it.

“The fine is one thing,” said Stross. “But the whole premise of getting fined for not wearing a mask in your own office is the biggest problem.

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